Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What If?

Slice of Life Tuesdays















This past weekend, I participated in Jacksonville's American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Walk. I walked with my family and some of my closet friends. All our lives have been touched by suicide. Some of us had lost someone to suicide. Some of us, like my husband, walked in support of someone who struggled with suicide. And then there were those of us who walked because we ourselves struggled with and/or had attempted suicide.

One of those friends started tearing up, and I quickly joined her, as she brought up the question... What if?

What if we had ended our lives? Would our loved ones be walking here with tears in their eyes and memories in their heads.

The question has haunted me since. It's been on my mind all week. I have attempted suicide twice in my life. Now, much more stable, I look back and wish I had just asked for help sooner. I don't want to imagine the "What If"s. I'm so thankful that my daughter will not have to grow up without a mother, filled with anger at me for what I had done. Or worse yet! That my daughter had never come to be.  She is already a beautiful person. What would the world be without her? How would my husband be?

I am lucky that I was supported so well and that something knocked in into my head that I needed help. Never be afraid to ask for help. Yell, scream, shout. Get what you need because your absence from the world would be noted and unwanted. YOU are wanted. Please, take care of yourself.

From my Art Journal

What if? All the beauty you bring to the world would be lost. All that would be left would be pain and sadness. You can get through this and recovery. I promise you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Well, well, well...

Tuesday Slice Of Life














Well, well, well.
Just another day down the drain.
Had a forecast for sunshine
but all I got was torrential rain.

To-do list at the ready.
Best laid plans...
I can hear God's laughter
at the intentions of man.

Day break shattered
along with my head.
Migraine settled in
and kept me in bed.

Dust to the to-do list.
Chores abandoned for darkness.
Just pain echoing in my skull.
As I hide in the blackness.

Ice on my skin.
Pills down my throat.
A day lost to pillows and covers.
A day that was but a sour note.

Darkness had fallen
before I could confront the light.
Where I had planned a busy day
I had left only the night.




Monday, October 5, 2015

No Judgement, No Fear

The I Still Matter Facebook page recently posted this link... 5 Reasons to Start an Art Journal...

I definitely scrolled past it at first. While I have recently rekindled a childhood love for arts and crafts, I would hardly call myself any kind of artist. I am very critical of myself. It takes a lot for me to allow myself to post my own writing, art seems like an even scarier arena to me. I am surrounded by so many true artists as friends and family, men and women who can create images you would mistake for a photograph or displays of surrealism that blow your mind.

Then I read the article. It was the first reason that got me. The Art Journal is for you.

 “It’s about no judgement, no fear,” says Sokol. “It’s perfect.”

So I decided to give it a try. I got myself a book and started to fill the pages. Every time I started judging myself, I just repeated the words, "No judgement, no fear". I'm not creating masterpieces, but I am creating. It feels amazing. And when I feel like sharing a page or two, I can. Today I created this...


That will never hang in a museum or grace some millionaire's wall but making it helped me feel a little more alive. I let go of the judgement and the fear and I made something that makes me happy.

I'll leave you with this comic from Jim Benton which my husband shared with me today...

Jim Benton

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Don't Wait

Today marks the end of the National Suicide Prevention Month for 2015.
I don't know if anything I've written or posted has helped or if any difference has been made of in our nation, in our world. I hope that someone found what they were looking for. I hope they found what they needed to keep fighting, to find their happiness.

I have been bullied. I have been abused mentally, physically, and sexually. I've been harassed. I have suffered through deep depressions and dangerous mania highs. I have cut, scratched and clawed, skinned, burned, and otherwise self-harmed. I have tried to take my own life multiple times and thought about it a thousands and thousands times more.

But I am still here, still fighting every day. And I am so happy to be alive! Finally speaking out and getting the help I needed was the best thing I ever did. Please don't wait to start living again.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

National Coffee Day

Slice of Life Tuesdays














Have you had the door slammed in you face?
With one movement they take you and erase.
You may have a dream which to you is so real
but they look at it and scoff like they feel.
Email after email, you get passed around like a cold.
Maybe you'll get a meeting where nothing will enfold.
You find yourself repeating key words like an incantation.
But they just look through you like an old quotation.
We could be saving young lives today.
We could be the ones showing the broken the way.
But instead your coffee is too hot.
You think about reading my email....you go with not.
I will grasp at straws and something will stick.
Pulling them away from ledges before things get drastic.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Read This First

Are you suicidal? Having some suicidal thoughts? Want insight on feeling suicidal and what you can do to help? Check out this quick and simple page. 






And remember I am always here to listen. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Infinite Room

Slice of Life Tuesdays














When I was a little girl,
sleep and I were never friendly.
Either the sandman didn't visit
or he took me to some nightmarish country.

So often on those rare nights
when my eyes stayed closed,
my mind went traveling
as my body innocently dozed.

More often than not
I found myself in an infinite room
stretching farther than I could see,
filled not only with the dark, murky gloom.

This immeasurable room was always somehow full
with something like trash or toys or trinkets.
Somehow I knew that I was tasked with cleaning it
or I would send some innocent to an early casket.

Seeing my impossible task
my heart and lungs stopped working.
Except to fuel the tears that broke from my eyes.
Somewhere my demons were smirking.

I often woke up screaming.
My body aching from the paralyzing task.
Each time I felt myself shutting down more.
Even if someone real would look to me for help and ask.

Though I am now much older
and the dreams of that room have vanished.
I still suffer from that incapacitating fear.
I'm easily overwhelmed and anguished.

Now a mother and a wife
I am often faced with rooms in disarray.
And though they are not infinite my heart beats hard.
I may find myself holding the doorknob just to make myself stay.

I am overwhelmed.
But I know I am equal to this undertaking.
I may still struggle with anxiety
but I am able. Sleeping or waking.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Broken Road

We walk these broken roads.
A million paths parallel
and resembling each other in disrepair.

Our eyes cast down.
The dirt covers us like sin
and we feel too far fallen for prayer.

The weight we carry is our world.
The pain of knowing no one cares
and that we are nothing to anyone but mistakes.

Some people turn around and go back.
Try to relive the past and fix..
But we can't change, can't prevent old heartaches.

Some people find a big old rock,
sit  and  embrace pain like a statue.
But sitting still means accepting our agony.

Some people trudge onward.
Stubborn and unchanging.
'Til one day they drop, dead or just weary.

The most broken, eyes blind to a future,
will fasten a rope, or find a ledge,
or a deep enough stream.

They are not weak, only fatigued.
More so than anyone could see.
If only they felt they had the air to scream.

Far too many souls
born to walk these broken roads.
Far too many lost to their own hands.

But sometimes a walker will look up.
Seeing their fellow traveler
they will leave their road as it stands.

Give them a shoulder to lean on.
Give them water from their own cup.
Teach them skills to survive the war torn road.

When a walker gives of themselves.
When they let others know they are not alone.
The good deed is heard and it's benefits echoed.




Tattoo

Oh no! It's long after midnight and I forgot to post yesterday. I didn't sleep the night before and so after a long, eventful day my two year old and I feel asleep on the couch watching Star Trek (Original Series). So let's just call this post 9/19 and it'll be our little secret... well, not a secret. More like a collective delusion that we choose to accept. There has to be a word for that which is escaping me right now...

SO....

On the topic of Suicide Prevention and Awareness and overall Mental Health Awareness.... I got a tattoo!


There is so much meaning for me in this simple, little tattoo. The short story:

The infinity symbol represents how life ongoing and my most likely lifelong battle against mental illness. The semicolon represents how I will never choose to end my life no matter how many times things get bad. The tattoo faces outwards towards others so I can tell my story and help others. 


I know my dad is going to be upset since he is very anti-tattoo, but it felt like a wonderful celebration of the milestone that I hit on Friday as well as a beacon to guide me as I continue my lifelong journey of recovery as well as my dreams and goals to help others fighting the same or similar battles. 

_______________________________________

About 20 days until the Out of the Darkness walk for Suicide Prevention and Awareness. I have a team of 5 people and we would love to have more people join us. You presence alone will help raise awareness. There is no registration fee and no minimal amount to donate. The organization recommends that each person have a goal of $150 (You get a t-shirt if you reach this amount) so our team goal is $750. I'm not expecting that to make that goal, but why not shoot high? We have currently $170. Every donation makes a difference from $1 to $100. If you're not able to do the walk with us, please consider donating to our team. 

If you are not in my area, definitely check out the Out of the Darkness site to find a walk near you! 

Suicide is 100% preventable. Let's open up the conversation and save lives. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

One Year



Today is a huge day for me. It marks my one year clean from self-harm.

It was not an easy year. Self-harm is an addiction like any other. I had to make a conscious decision every day. Some days I had to make the choice every hour. While I am closer now than I was a year ago to my form of "normal", I still have my bad days and my really bad days. Each bad day I had to fight the urges to turn to my previous diseased behaviors to deal with the pain and mental torture and in the end, I won.

It feels sometimes like nothing has changed but as I look back, everything is different.

My self-harm journey started as a preteen when after a fight with my mother I punched a door. It's strange because so many people punch doors and walls and don't end up self-harmers. But I did. My whole body had been pent up with rage and the pain I felt when I hit that door was like an instant drug. And like a drug, I became addicted. I didn't even realize for years what I was doing. I would find some way to hurt myself when the stress or anger or anything became too much. I didn't realize I was self-harming because I was so lost. I hid it from everyone and lied to every doctor. I did not tell a doctor until I was 24 and that's just way too long. I hope if you're reading this and you're hiding your self-harming or suicidal thoughts and lying about being "fine". I hope you realize that you are only losing years of life, years of adventures. Please get help.


I couldn't have made it a year without my therapists, my doctor, my real friends, and especially my husband. When I started my recovery two years ago, I never thought it was possible. I remember being inpatient, perhaps my fifth stay in a sixth month period, and I remember having a total panic attack and just crying uncontrollably. "I'm never gonna get better! I'm never gonna get better!". A nurse gave me the biggest hug and told me that I was going to get better and that it was all in my hands. She told me that our mental illnesses will lie to us and try to keep us down and we just have to stand up to it everyday and say "I won't let you keep me down".

Getting through depression isn't as easy as just that. But if you take the right meds, go to therapy, and do everything "right", you will get no where if your own heart isn't in it. Everyone's recovery is individual and it takes time and effort. It's a full time job and it won't work unless you're ready to do the work.

It's so worth it.

Not everyone who self-harms is suicidal and not everyone who is suicidal self-harms. But sometimes they do mix, as they did for me. The link below has some great information.

Suicide and Self-Harm



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Here's Your Sign

Tonight is going to be a hard night for me. Suicide will never be far from my thoughts. So I am going to fill this post with positive images. Hopefully if you are going through something and you are having suicidal thoughts these images will inspire you to take on tomorrow and work towards recovery. I know it's possible. It's work but it's not only possible, it's entirely worth it.





















Please take care of yourself. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bullying


Bullying is definitely closely related to suicide, especially in kids and adolescents. According to bullyingstatistics.org, about 1 in 4 kids in the US are bullied regularly. The same website says that bullied kids are up to 9% more likely to attempt suicide than other kids. 



I think anyone who had been bullied can tell you that the old rhyme "Sticks and Stones..." isn't true. Words can hurt. Words can even kill. And that doesn't even touch on the physicality of some bullying. Kids landing in hospitals because a bully thought they were [insert derogatory term here]. Many people look back at a time in their lives and can be brought to tears instantly from words or actions even decades ago.



I was a victim of bullying when I was entering the eighth grade. I was a part of a youth soccer team where many of us had been playing together for years. The coach's daughter, our team captain, who I considered my best friend, stopped speaking to me without an explanation, without so much as a word. I was becoming a much quieter person and I had already started self-harming and sinking into depression. But soccer was my life. It was where my energy went to and I don't think I changed much in that environment. But I lost my best friend and I never knew what I did wrong. At first, it was awkward because Coach drove me to every practice and some games. I lived in a house a few yards away. Our lives were so entangled. But after a while, I became closer to her younger sister and life went on as usual. But apparently, not talking to me and not being my friend was not enough for this girl I had formerly been so close to. One by one each team mate began to ignore me during practice and warm ups. For a girl who already had anxiety issues and depression, I felt like my heart was going to explode as each girl turned away from me without a word. It went farther than even my team mates. Parents began to ostracize me as well. When I made the mistake of suggesting that the girl playing goal keeper (who wore a goalie jersey over her regular jersey) lend her regular jersey to a girl who accidentally left hers at home, a parent grabbed me and said something along the lines of 
"I know what you're doing and I'm not gonna let it happen on my watch. You can't manipulate me". 
I stared at her, truly blindsided and I told her I didn't know what she was talking about. She just rolled her eyes and waited for me to walk away. I remember the feeling of those warm tears filling my eyes and trying to hide them. I was shaking. How did it get to the point that no one would warm up with me before a game and I got yelled at? At one practice I laid on the ground during water break, resting. The other kids got the biggest person to sit on my back so I couldn't get up while they poured Gatorade all over me and kicked me with their cleats. I could only cover my face. This wasn't the first of last at of violence against me. What was this rumor going around? I never found out and I never will. After breaking down and going into a psychosis, I finally left the team and my family moved not too long later. 



I survived that but it did lead to strengthen my self-hatred and self-harm. And bullying didn't end there. I was bullied as a young adult because I was a strong female character and some men [read:boys] can't handle that. Bullying is everywhere. It doesn't stop when you turn 13 or 18 or 21 or even when you're 26. 



But I'm not proud to say that I was a bully too. Years before my excommunication from that soccer group, back when I was more outspoken and even popular, I was a part of the "Captain's Clique". We didn't call it that back than, but we probably should have. At the time, I didn't realize what was going on. It just felt like me and my best friend hanging out with our other best friends. I didn't see the way we spoke to the other girls or walked around like we owned it. As I've looked back on all these years, working on my forgiveness for things I don't even understand, I've discovered memories that I'm not proud of. 



When I joined this hodgepodge group of soccer players I was 8 years old. Some of them had already been playing together for years. But my totally awesome personality (ha ha ha) made it easy for me to make friends. I was kind of a natural soccer player and the coach liked me so I think that helped. Memories are always fuzzy for me these days, but even though these memories are a bit blurry, I can feel the awkward and uncomfortable feelings I had about them at first. There was another girl who I suspect was a part of the inner circle before I came around but seemed to drift towards the outside as time went on. So often my best friend would make disparaging remarks about this girl. The rude comments didn't stop at soccer skills but continued to include physical looks, her intelligence, and even her family. I laughed along with her and the others, I'm sure I made my own jokes too. 




Throughout the torment that preteen girls can commit, our victim held her head high and you could hardly ever find her without a smile on her face. I don't know if it's because she wasn't aware of our cruelty (I doubt it), but I think she just had such wonderful confidence in herself. I would be lying if I said that her strength didn't make me feel better about the pain I may have caused. This girl is beautiful, smart, and talented. I've been lucky to watch her continued journey through life and I couldn't be happier for her and the wonderful life she's made for herself. I hope everyday that what I did or said did not leave a lasting mark. I hope she knows I'm truly sorry for allowing myself to act so lowly and treat her so horribly. 



Like I said in the beginning, bullying is linked to suicide. I know that every time I experienced bullying it was like someone was driving a knife that much deeper towards my heart. Bullying is unnecessary. It usually comes from the insecurities of the bully and has nothing to do with the victim. This month is Suicide Prevention Month and one of the ways we can prevent suicide, especially in our youth, is to do everything we can to eliminate bullying. The world has expanded with the internet so bullying can take place anywhere and at anytime. We need to prepare our kids for bullying. Not just that it might happen but that they don't need to let it under our skin. Like the girl I bullied, we need to raise our children to have the confidence and the self-esteem to face anything. Nothing breaks and changes a bully like someone who they can't hurt. And of course, always be there for your children whether it is to listen and strengthen them or set them right and teach them humility. Bullying is NOT "kids will be kids". It doesn't teach kids to be tough. Bullying kills. Bullying is known to cause anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and suicidal behavior in adolescents. Bullying is not limited to any particular group of people. Children and adults can be bullied. Black or white. Rich or poor. No one is inherently safe and our goal should be to protect everyone. Through strengthening our children and teaching good values. Bullying leads to suicide and we can't let this continue. 





Tuesday, September 15, 2015

This Week

Tuesdays Slice of Life














This week is such a big week for me. It holds a lot of awful memories but also on Friday a beautiful milestone will be met.

I try to think of where I was last year at this time... I was about to get some awful news that led me to shred by arms like they were incriminating files. But that was just the beginning of the pain I would feel this week. My friend group almost lost a friend to suicide and I was convinced it was my fault. That day I shredded what was left of my arms and then turned to burning them. For one of the burns I used a spiraled instrument, don't ask me why, it was just in my kitchen, in front of me. This was the last time I harmed myself.

Over the last year I have had, thanks to the spiraled utensil, a "G" scarred on my arm. It was so painful when my little girl, barely 2 years old asked me what the "G" meant. Friends and family were all curious and I was as patient as I could be with them. I hated being asked, I never tried to come up with an answer that was clever but I always just said it was a self-harm wound, the "G" was accidental.

Now if you asked me I would probably say it was "G" for Guilt. That's what I was feeling when I did it. I'm trying to convince myself it's "G" for God because he's the one in control but I really just want it to fade. But it won't. It feels like I have some lesson to learn first...

This is what mental illness and suicide can do. It becomes a hurricane of guilt, pain, and sadness. It doesn't care where it hits. It is senseless and dangerous. This is why we need to end the stigma and open up the conversation. We can save lives.

Friday is my 1 year free of self-harm. Sometimes it was hell and sometimes it was heaven. But I'm so glad I have made it so far because I know now that I can go on, even on the worst days, I can make it through anything.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dark Limerick

I am terrible at Limericks so forgive me. Limericks are traditionally silly and lighthearted. I thought I'd take the opportunity to contrast that by using the limerick structure to write about darker things. Again, apologies for my awful rhythm. 


There was once a young girl with a disease.
So thin she could blow away with the breeze.
About food she lied.
Pain kept hidden inside.
Confused between bones and beauties.

There was a boy who was friends with a blade.
Crimson lines on his skin and the pain they made.
All he'd wanted was a scar.
Now things gone too far.
Before you know it in the ground he's laid.

Everyone thinks there is nothing wrong.
But underneath she's not nearly so strong.
Pops pills that aren't hers
'til everything blurs.
She smiles but still doesn't feel she belongs.

Suicide was once something both feared and ignored.
You didn't talk about it unless on the psychiatric ward.
That helped no one.
Lost people being shunned.
But now we move to end the stigma and let it be explored.





Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thoughts and Lies

When you suffer from a mental illness like Depression you are more likely to commit suicide. Pretty obvious right? But what's not always obvious is the suffering of the person. Some suicidal teenagers have a sick pride in how easy it is to lie and say "I'm fine". But inside, the depressed person is most likely bombarded with negative thoughts, lies that the mental illness makes seem so true. 


Most of these negative thoughts that can lead to suicide are either lies spread by the disease or the after effect of said lies.

When you open up the conversation and offer to listen you can help break down the wall of lies that the disease has spread. Don't forget that a seriously depressed person can appear completely put together on the outside. Make it a usual thing for your group of friends to check in with each other. If a friend disappears for a while without a word or starts giving strange excuses for canceling plans, make the extra effort to make sure they're ok.

While we hope that anyone suffering from a mental illness and struggling with suicidal thoughts would come forward voluntarily, that isn't often the case. Make a commitment to your friends and family that you will be there and you will listen. Take a public pledge. Make it Facebook Official. "I know some of you may be hurting and I want you to know that I will listen."

I Will Listen.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Everybody's Business


Maybe you don't think you know anyone whose life has been touched by suicide. Maybe you think it will never touch yours. The truth? More than 40,000 people killed themselves in 2013. More people die from suicide than homicide. Suicide attempts are not kept track of as accurately but there were an estimated 650,000 cases of hospital visits relating to self-harm. Who knows how many people are silently suffering, overcome with suicidal thoughts.

I'm just gonna put a guess out there that at least one person in your life has been affected by suicide. Don't just sit around and wait for it to touch yours. We can all do something to help prevent suicide. The easiest way is conversation. An honest conversation with your family, your friends, with the world. We need to let everyone suffering that they are not alone and that recovery is possible.

Don't sit and watch all the talk about Suicide Awareness and Prevention and think that it's not a part of your life. Suicide affects us all. It's everybody's business.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Stop


Stop.
"I'm fine"
No, you're not.
Lying won't help.
I'll listen to you.

Life.
Actions. 
Your story.
A bright future.
You can change the world.

Breathe.
Stay strong.
You are loved.
That's the answer.
Suicide is not.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day

According to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO), over 800,000 people take their own lives each year across the world.

In 2013 (The most recent year for which full data for the United States is available), 41,419 suicides were reported. This makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the US. That's higher than Homicide which is 16th. It is the 3rd leading cause of death in the world for ages 15-44.

In 2013, someone in the US died of suicide about every 12 minutes. In the entire world, a person dies of suicide every 40 seconds.



How can you not be taken aback by these facts? Can you sit there and not want to help. Helping is as easy as simple as conversation or a silent show of support. Just sending out a proud message to let your circle know that if any of them are in trouble, you will listen.



Today, was World Wide Suicide Prevention Day. I've seen a good show of support on the internet, but I hope next year we have more. Every person in the entire world deserves to know that they are wanted, that people are here to listen and support them, and that they can recover from whatever is pushing them to the edge. Depression, any mental illness, is treatable. You can have happiness and peace of mind if you're willing to work for it.

I hope you know that your story is not over. This too shall pass. I know the cliches get old, but they are tried and true. It took me far too long to reach out for help. Ask someone to talk. I'm sure they will be more than willing.




We can work to end suicide together by being there for each other as human beings. Forget religion, race, gender, sex. Be brave and be kind.

Be brace and share your story with the world so that others may know that recovery is possible and that they are not alone.

Be kind because you never know what someone else has been through. Be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and the voice of support letting them know they are strong enough to beat this.